In what has come to be thought of as the premiere hockey movie, Slap Shot really has very little to do with the sport. Yes, there are plenty of scenes that happen on the ice, but they are so ridiculously over the top it is nothing like what you would see in an actual hockey game. What caused its popularity is the exaggerations of different sorts of players – the goons, skilled players, eccentric goalies, and francophone players. The humour is so broad in Slap Shot that it really became accepted as the grandfather of outrageous sports comedies.
The Charlestown Chiefs are a minor-league hockey team made up of a ragtag group of players. Led by veteran player-coach Reg Dunlop (Paul Newman – The Sting, Cool Hand Luke), other than Ned (Michael Ontkean – The Descendents, Postcards From the Edge) the team is not very talented and this is reflected in the standings. The team manager, in desperation, makes the players partake in a number of ridiculous publicity schemes. Things go from bad to worse when it is announced that the local mill, the town’s biggest employer, is about to close putting many in the town out of work. Rumour is that this will lead to the team folding. Reggie finds out and is not about to take this lying down vowing to make the team viable so they would be of interest to a potential buyer.
They are not doing well and in an effort to get some butts into the seats management signs the brothers Hanson, a trio of thick-lens glasses wearing goons. At first Reg is totally against these guys as he doesn’t see them as hockey players. Once Reg finally does play them he sees the excitement they generate amongst the crowd and that the Chiefs finally win a game. Spreading the rumour that there is interest from a potential buyer located in Florida, Reg decides that goon hockey is the way to go. Ned is not happy with this and refuses to play this way. Reg ignores him as the team is winning and the arena is sold out every game.
The swinging 70s is something that we have all heard about and this film is a perfect illustration of that era. Swinging takes on a new meaning as there is plenty of swinging of fists happening as well. Slap Shot was trashed by critics when it came out, but has gone on to become a cult classic. It has become such an influential sports film that you can see how later films like Major League and Bull Durham have incorporated some of its more raunchy aspects. The violence and profanity in the film is beloved by everyone who has watched it. Because of their almost cartoon nature rather than offend they are seen as humourous. It is a hoot and pretty much all the way through.
No matter what the critics have said about the violence and sexism in the film its success really shows us how as a society we are attracted to violence.
-The Hanson Brothers’ Classic Scenes
-Puck Talk with the Hansons